Sunday, August 21, 2005

Shaking Her Assets!

Is that a killer title or what? Today I'm thrilled to host the co-authors of this humorous new novel on the blog. Welcome to Robin Epstein and Renee Kaplan!

First the buzz:

Let’s say you really enjoy getting up in the morning to go to work, where your bosses love you, your office-mate gives better gossip than Page Six, and your expensively embossed business cards whisper to the world how important you are. And let’s say your boyfriend of nearly two years still makes you feel lucky to be with him, because you know he’s got your back and can definitely be counted on for a super-divine anniversary dinner out. And then let’s say you get fired (“No, not fired, downsized!”) and dumped (Oops -- His XXX e-mail “About Last Night” wasn’t intended for you!) in very quick succession. That would suck—a lot—and that’s exactly what happens to Rachel Chambers, a New York copywriter who suddenly has no job, no boyfriend, and no back-up plan.

She’s bummed, furious, crushed, and the vodka gimlet binge on her best friend Ben’s expense account does help—until the next day. Like it or not, Rachel has to reinvent herself. What she doesn’t do is follow the rules and get a conventional new job. What she does instead is start a business—sort of. She and Ben conjure up a business idea as a complete joke, and it unexpectedly starts to take off. But it's a risky stealth effort, with lots of improvising, a dose of guerrilla marketing, and copious amounts of total bluffing. Meanwhile, Rachel’s been temping, and when the art director at her temp job gets wind of her romantic and entrepreneurial misadventures, he turns her into a comic book superhero, with cone boobs and biceps big enough to defend any kind of business practice. Rachel’s man-eating alter ego has got her believing that she just might be able to pull it off in real life…though maybe without the cone-shaped bra.
And the blurbs:
"SHAKING HER ASSETS is funny, smart, and hugely entertaining."

- Jill A. Davis, author of GIRLS' POKER NIGHT

"A funny page-turner for the entrepreneur in us all."

- Alison Pace, author of IF ANDY WARHOL HAD A GIRLFRIEND

"Funny and true to life--a smart and clever read."

- Johanna Edwards, author of THE NEXT BIG THING
And the REVIEWS!
Have a job interview? Exploring raise possibilities? Now's the time to go for it! For inspiration, check out SHAKING HER ASSETS, a hilarious novel about pursuing a dream job.
Star Scopes

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You don't have to possess X-Ray vision or a Lasso of Truth to be a superhero. New York City native Rachel Chambers, the star of the clever chick-lit title "Shaking Her Assets," finds her power simply by thwarting evil blind dates and leaping from job to job. Eventually, one of Rachel's coworkers gets wind of her urban adventures and sketches a compic strip based on her. Will her alter ego inspire Rachel to take control of her life?
-INSIDE TV, 6/13/05
What's New This Week

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"Shaking Her Assets," a stylish cut of chick lit by Robin Epstein and Renee a breezy bathtub read about one of those ideas -- you know, the kind that makes you think, "I should quite this gig and just..."... This light romp through Manhattan -- with all its art, food and creative energy -- and makes readers want to hop and train and take a bite out of the Big Apple, just like the city's newest heroine.
-The Buzz
for full review: When You're Down, Shake It Up

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Like many young professionals, Rachel - the protagonist in the new novel "Shaking Her Assets" by Renee Kaplan and Robin Epstein - is just trying to carve out her territory as a catalog editor in the creative hive that is New York City when personal tragedy strikes... Sounds like a job for - no, wait. Ambitious young women don't have a superhero! That is until Rachel embarks on a daring business idea and new friend Zach depicts her exploits as comic book character Marilyn Manizer, the woman with nerves - and bra - of steel. Rachel starts to believe she just might pull off her crazy but creative new life...
-ITHACA TIMES, 6/22/05
for full review:

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What do you do when you lose your job and your boyfriend in the same month (after polishing off one too many vodka gimlets with your best friend, that is)? You reinvent yourself, of course...
for full review:

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Fresh ideas like the comic book angle make this debut novel a cut above the ordinary. Engaging characters, particularly the smart and thoughtful protagonist, add sparkle to an appealing plot. The witty dialogue never falters and the Manhattan hipster scene feels authentic. Writing partners Epstein and Kaplan have collaborated on a sexy success story with great big heart.
-Romantic Times, 4-stars

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The savvy, independent woman chicklit readers want to identify with is Rachel. She struggles in her relationships with her family, both envying her married sister and feeling blessed by and proud of her sister’s family. She... figures out how to run a business, makes quick smart decisions that further her company. She demands to be taken seriously and respected, particularly by her best friend and his fiancée in one memorable restaurant showdown. Ah, the glory of it! Watching her business savvy is in itself a reason to read the book though ultimately, it is her entire coming of age, with her family, friends, romantic partners, and career, that make this story fascinating.
-Small Spiral Notebook
for full review:

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[T]he writing is surprisingly smooth, written in the first person events in the life of Rachel Chambers... The book has a likable heroine, and is written in a breezy colloquial style. Even at the heroine's darkest hours, she keeps a sense of humor.
-PRESS FOCUS, All Around Philly, Book Review
for full review: 'Shaking Her Assets': A Comic Look At a Young Entrepreneur

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Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons may be on to something: Life would be much easier if we were all superheroes. That's the premise of Robin Epstein and Renée Kaplan's hip new tome, Shaking Her Assets, which is one part chick lit, one part graphic novel. The story's heroine, Rachel Chambers, is a copywriter who gets mercilessly kicked to the curb by her boss and boyfriend. But things start looking up for Rachel when Zach, a co-worker at her temp job, creates a comic-book superhero based on her misadventures. Marilyn Manizer is a hot-blooded (and just plain hot) superheroine with steel resolve -- and a steel bra.

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Radio Interview with Dayna Steele, "The Art of Doing Business"
And now onto the juiciest stuff... the interview! *applause*

MO'C: How does your co-authorship work? Do you switch off chapters, or point of view sections, or just write until you can't write anymore and send the book along?
RE/RK:We had a pretty precise process--but it took some figuring out. We brainstormed, conceived, and outlined the whole book together--literally. In front of the same computer screen. After months of collaborative face to face work, we'd created a detailed outline of dozens of chapters, which we then divided. Basically, odds and evens! We'd write a chapter, send it to the other, she would edit--sometimes heavily!--and send it back, and then we would discuss the changes and suggestions and send it back again. In all this back and forth we ended up creating a smooth interweaving of our styles and, we hope, a single strong voice.

MO'C: How did you get the idea for this book? Having been on the sidelines of corporate "downsizing" myself, I have to wonder if there's a story behind the story here....
RE/RK: would be fair to say that we've seen our fair share of downsizing and job cancelling, both personally, and among our friends. But we also think that the feeling is universal--it's the rare person who hasn't, at one point or another, had the unpleasant feeling of being dispensable at work. And whether you actually get the hatchet or not, those are moments that often force you to reassess.

MO'C: Which one of you is most like Rachel and why?
RE/RK: That's an excellent question, because we deliberately created Rachel to be neither one of us. It's such a recurrent trope in chick lit for the main character to be be a veiled--or barely veiled--version of the narrator. We wanted to avoid the idea that this story was just our story. It was important to us that Rachel reflect something a little bit larger than our own experience. Now I know that is SO not the answer you were looking for, because it'd be so much more fun it were all TRUE! The truth is that it is mostly all true, but it's a patchy composite of me and robin and lots of other women of our generation that we know.

MO'C: What message did you hope to get across with Shaking Her Assets and why?
RE/RK: Well, Shaking is a story of personal reinvention--a story that very much reflects our stories. Only a lot funnier and with comic strips. Both of us have become experts of personal reinvention over the years: after college Renee went to Harvard Law. But instead of a lawyer she became a writer...and then a television producer, and then a novelist. Robin has gone from stand-up comic to sitcom writer to scripting video games. Reinvention is probably the story of our whole generation, and it's when we realized just how good we'd become at repackaging and re-starting our own lives, that we decided we may as well write the Novel of Reinvention. We wanted to write about how universal this experience is--and also how positive it can be. Careers and love lives sometimes crash and hit bottom--we've all experienced those moments--but Rachel, like most women, has a lot more resources than she's aware of, and sometimes it takes some extreme circumstances for women to realize that. We ending up building something from what feel like nothing, and learning a lot about ourselves along the way.

MO'C: How did you come up with the title? It's so snappy and unforgettable!
RE/RK:The dirty little secret is that it was a VERY working title (e.g. totally temporary!) that we came up with in a moment of exhaustion and punchiness, the day we turned in our first complete manuscript. And then it stuck! What started out as a campy joke, our editor ended up loving.

MO'C: Rachel becomes a comic book superhero. Would each of you please name your favorite comic book superhero and tell why that hero appeals to you?
RE:I'd have to go with the Incredible Hulk. I think it's because some days I can relate perfectly to how that guy feels: he gets so angry, he turns green, busts the seams on his clothing and then goes crashing through walls. I actually had a moment like that yesterday when I was in a fitting room...
RK: My favorite superhero is probably Underdog: it's his understated genius, and his calm in moments of crisis!

MO'C: What advice would you have for aspiring authors?
RE/RK:Keep writing, keep pitching, persevere: you dont know how long it will take, but something better than you imagine will very likely come of those efforts. For all you invest, you WILL get a return, but not necessarily when and how you'd expect it. But keep leveraging your assets, and know that if you have confidence in your talent, that confidence becomes infectious.

MO'C: What's next for the two of you?
RE/RK:Well as soon as Dreamworks buys the film rights to Shaking Her Assets (tee-hee), we'll begin writing part II..and until then, we are brainstorming what the next book will be. And it just might be something totally new and NON-fiction.

Thanks so much for visiting the blog, you two! And don't forget to pick up a copy of Shaking Her Assets at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or (where all the cool kids are buying theirs)your local independent bookseller.